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Clues to W’s. Unlocking and connecting standards to the historical narrative. Anthony Fitzpatrick The American Institute for History Education. Catch my Campaign. Dr. Yohuru Williams & Anthony Fitzpatrick. What are Clues to W’s?.

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clues to w s

Clues to W’s

Unlocking and connecting standards to the historical narrative.

Anthony Fitzpatrick

The American Institute for History Education

catch my campaign

Catch my Campaign

Dr. Yohuru Williams & Anthony Fitzpatrick

what are clues to w s
What are Clues to W’s?
  • Clues to W’s is an activity for your classroom that will allow students to practice using context clues and research skills to connect individuals, groups, events, places and other things in state standards to the larger historical narrative.
we are vexed with a problem
We are vexed with a problem -
  • We have to find a way to teach the state standards, but the resources available to us rarely match up – causing a situation where there is some great history that we have to try to find a way to teach AND link it into the national narrative.
  • It’s not only a problem for teachers, so let’s use our classrooms and students to tackle this problem.
how to use clues to w s in your classroom
How to use Clues to W’s in your classroom.

There is planning and investment on the part of the teacher in the beginning of the year. But through careful planning – students will becoming active learners and historical detectives.

Exposing students to the 5 w’s has always been a cornerstone in our classrooms. Let’s have the W’s leap off of the page and allow students to immerse themselves into history.

step 1
Step 1
  • Identify a broad theme or topic that you’ll be teaching in class
    • The First Contact
    • Comparing Native American Tribes
    • Colonial Life
    • The French and Indian War
    • The Declaration of Independence
    • American Revolution
step 2
Step 2
  • Take out your state standards.
  • Identify names, places, events, dates from the standards that correlate to the broad topic or theme.
are you limited by your standards
Are you “limited” by your standards?
  • Of course not!
    • Those names, dates and places that don’t fit naturally into your lessons are great with this strategy.
    • How about those little boxes of information in your textbook? Artists, books, inventions etc.
step 3
Step 3
  • For everything you pull out – find a who, what when, where, why.
    • (for people – link the w’s to the overall event you that they are linked with in the standards)
    • For “Why?” – indicate this persons SPEC significance to local, state and national history
step 4
Step 4
  • Locate and reproduce a source that links the topic to the broad theme:
    • Newspaper article
    • Textbook excerpt
    • Political cartoon
    • Movie/ video
    • Literature
    • image
step 5
Step 5
  • Create a heuristic clue the will allow students to unlock the answers to the “W’s”
    • The “Why?” happens later.
    • You can supply some of the “W’s” to the students to provide some scaffolding.
step 6
Step 6
  • Students will then utilize the worksheet to unlock the clues.
  • The correct answers serve as the passcode.
  • The teacher will check their work and then give them access to the primary source document
step 7
Step 7
  • Students will use the primary source document to link the singular event to the larger historical narrative of local, state, national, and world themes.
let s walk through an example and then we can try our hand at this
Let’s walk through an example and then we can try our hand at this.
  • The ocean blue became a major trade route between old and new when this explorer sought to bring honor to The Bull and his wife and attain the 3 G’s.
  • Look into your “crystal ball” and help his three ships find his “paniola”.
  • Crack the code and use the document to discuss the SPEC significance of this topic.
the documents
The Documents:
  • A chart representing the Colombian Exchange.
  • The route map for Christopher Columbus’s voyage.
  • The primary source document.
your turn
Your turn!
  • I’ve included some topics from your standards.
  • Let’s practice developing clues!!
how could we approach bleeding kansas
How could we approach Bleeding Kansas?
  • Bleeding Kansas was a series of violent events, involving anti-slavery Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state of Missouri roughly between 1854 and 1858. At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or slave state. As such, Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war between Northerners and Southerners over the issue of slavery in the United States. The term "Bleeding Kansas" was coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune; the events it encompasses directly presaged the American Civil War.
think about what you already teach
Think about what you already teach. . .
  • Take a brief moment to consider your standards.
  • Think about the curriculum you teach.
  • What figures, places, events can you do this with?
  • Any documents you can think of?
let s 2 0 it with 21 st century skills
Let’s 2.0 it with 21st Century Skills
  • How can we use technology and collaboration to efficiently and effectively solve problems and produce a dynamite finished product?
  • Split up the heuristic clues and assign a piece to one member of a group. Each student is responsible for their piece.
  • They come together and unlock the primary source document and research the significance together.
further collaboration
Further Collaboration
  • Have students create a Clue for W assignment for each other. They check the progress of the other student’s work.
  • **This works better after you’ve modeled it.
  • Have students use moodle or a wiki page to leave the clues. Students can submit their answers via the same process.
  • The primary source can be password protected.
  • What else can we do?
the finished product
The Finished Product
  • What do we want our students to do with this information?
  • How will they present the SPEC significance?
  • Standard Essay, Biography, Newspaper account, political cartoon.
  • Anything else?
questions comments suggestions
Questions, Comments, Suggestions?
  • Are there any ways this activity can be modified?
  • What elements would you use or not use?
  • Could you enhance this or make it more grade-level appropriate?
  • Any other scaffolding methods?
thank you
Thank You!
  • Look in your state standards and use them to activate student learning!


with a trace

With A Trace

Connecting local, state, national and world history by finding treasures in your

Backyard and Big History

Anthony Fitzpatrick

Vice President of Professional Development Services

The American Institute for History Education

catch my campaign1

Catch my Campaign

Dr. Yohuru Williams & Anthony Fitzpatrick

clue s to w s goes live
Clue’s to W’s goes Live!
  • While similar to Clue’s to W’s in that we’ll be using heuristic clues to unlock key points and we’ll connect the singular event to it’s SPEC significance:
  • With a Trace takes you and your students off of the page and into the history that surrounds them!
investigate the world around you
Investigate the world around you.
  • We are surrounded by history in our daily and recreational lives.
  • Why not take the things we encounter and begin to notice it and use it’s existence as a gateway into our history classrooms.
what might we find
What Might We Find?
  • The SPECters of the past.
    • YES – we’re going to explore the world to find what history left behind and connect it to what we’re already teaching in the classroom!!!
  • Statues
  • Bridge names
  • Markers
  • Memorials
  • Street names
  • Artifacts in museums
  • Buildings
doing this in your classroom
Doing this in your classroom
  • Step 1: Find one of the examples above.
  • Step 2: Research its history to find its SPEC significance to local, state, national, or world history. (ideally there would be a link to a larger era or period in history beyond local history)
  • Step 3: Create a heuristic clue that is similar to Clue’s for W’s (but now geographic location can play a bigger role!)
  • As Old Saint John walked through a rich port colony; he noticed a woman following in the footsteps of Clara Barton on four wheels.
  • Although there was no “fuhrer” over the soldiers she helped – her life was inspiring to many who have strolled by her waters.
  • Who was this inspiration and what was the SPEC significance of the place and organization in history.
text on the plaque
Text on the plaque:
  • American Red Cross – the founder was Clara Barton.
  • During WWII – Puerto Rico was still a US Colony. It provides a wonderful way to remind students of a past unit (sometimes called the age of American Imperialism)
your turn1
Your Turn!
  • Using this powerpoint and the document; create a clue for your students!
  • I have included images from your standards and location and around the country!

N 33° 14.337 W 117° 01.916

  • 11S E 497025 N 3677777
  • Long Description:Elizabeth Jane (Jennie) Cloud Wimmer was involved in the single most important event in California history, the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill on January 24, 1848. Her husband Peter and mill foreman James Marshall found a nugget in the American River and gave it to Jennie, a cook and housekeeper, to test in a kettle of soap. The next day she declared that the nugget was gold. The famed California gold rush began. With James Marshall, she is credited as the co-discoverer of California gold. An account by Captain John Sutter refers to the gem as the Wimmer nugget.
  • This plaque is placed in cooperation with the Valley Center Historical Society, the County of San Diego, and the ancient and honorable order of E Clampus Vitus, Squibob Chapter, October 5, 2003.
  • "During the First Seminole War, 1836, the Mosquito Roarers, a company of Florida militia under Major Benjamin Putnam, engaged a large band of Seminoles pillaging Dunlawton, a sugar plantation on the Halifax River. Heavy fighting ensued, but the militiamen were unable to disperse the Indians. The extensive system of sugar plantations on Florida's east coast was eventually destroyed by Seminole raids and the sugar industry in this area never recovered."
and maybe the best find
And maybe the BEST find:

Geneva Cemetery in Geneva, FL

some brief background info
Some brief background info:
  • Using the pseudonym "Lewis Payne", Lewis Thornton Powell was the youngest and the most stoic of the Lincoln conspirators associated with John Wilkes Booth and the assassination attempts of April 14, 1865. A former member of John Mosby's Confederate rangers, Powell was given the task of assassinating Secretary of State William Seward, who was at his home near the White House recuperating from a recent carriage accident. Miraculously, Seward survived Powell's knife attack but was facially scarred for the rest of his life. Powell was arrested a few days later and confined in the Old Capitol Prison. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang with the three (3) other conspirators on July 7, 1865.
implementation part 2
Implementation part 2
  • Use the clue as a warm-up, do now, anticipatory set or closure activity in your class. It serves as a natural tie in to an upcoming lesson.
  • The key is to make sure there is an explanation using SPEC to find SPECifics and why this bit of history left behind is SPECial.
more ways to do this
More ways to do this . . .
  • If you have a student that goes on vacation or spends a weekend in a special place – Have them go on a search for these things and create a virtual scavenger hunt for their classmates. Or have them do the research and you create the clue.
  • They can ditch the book and use their camera and ipod as learning tools!
21 st century skills
21st Century Skills!
  • Take a virtual field trip or have your students follow a scavenger hunt when your on a real trip.
  • With GPS technology they can truly create some great scavenger hunts for future classes or their classmates
use the most influential media out there
Use the most influential media out there . . .
  • You (tube)
    • Teachertube!
  • i (pod)
  • Wiki sites, moodle
  • Search for primary sources to validate the significance of the monument or marker.
    • This isn’t always easy – so I’d use this judiciously as an extension.